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The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (1958)

de Dr. Seuss

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Sèrie: The Cat in the Hat (2)

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The Cat in the Hat leaves a big pink ring in the tub and moves it from place to place with the help of his alphabet friends.
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That troublemaking feline who first appeared in 1957, in Dr. Seuss' very first early reader, The Cat in the Hat, returns in this second, alphabetic adventure. As the narrator and his sister Sally shovel snow, the Cat in the Hat appears, dashing off into the house despite being told he is not welcome. Here he makes the predictable mess, and then unveils his helpers: little cats in hats, nested within his own hat like Matryoshka dolls, and named (one each) for the letters of the alphabet. This feline crew swing into action to clean up the big pink spot that persists, as a result of the original Cat in the Hat's shenanigans, with the deciding factor in their success being the invisible VOOM living under Cat Z's hat...

Originally published in 1958, the year after its predecessor, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back was Dr. Seuss's sixteenth children's book, and the second of what would grow to become a substantial collection of early readers. Although it can be read as a picture-book, it belongs to Random House's I Can Read It All By Myself Beginner Books collection, which encompasses all of the Dr. Seuss and Dr. Seuss-labeled early readers, as well as other titles. Like the earlier title, it is a book I recall reading and enjoying as a child, although perhaps not as often or as much as the first. I picked it up for this reread as part of my recently begun Dr. Seuss retrospective, in which I will be reading and reviewing all of of his classic children's books, in chronological publication order. This is a project I undertook as an act of personal protest against the suppression of six of the author/artist's titles - And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, McElligot's Pool, If I Ran the Zoo, Scrambled Eggs Super!, On Beyond Zebra! and The Cat's Quizzer - by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, due to the outdated and potentially offensive elements that they contain. See my review of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, to be found HERE, for a fuller exploration of my thoughts on that matter.

As I mentioned in my recent review of The Cat in the Hat, although these books are not currently being suppressed through this recent decision on the part of the copyright holder, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, to cease publication, it may only be a matter of time until they have been added to that sad list. To quote myself: "Sadly, the censorious impulse - including, and perhaps especially, the self-censorious impulse, of which this recent decision is an example - only gains strength as it is fed, and this particular book has already run afoul of those same critics whose work seems to have informed Dr. Seuss Enterprises' recent action against the artistic and literary legacy that they are meant to be representing. Apparently the argument has been put forward, in such academic titles as Philip Nel's Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children's Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, that the titular Cat in this story is a descendant of the minstrel shows and blackface of earlier generations, and that his actions are a coded reflection of white fears about the disruptive nature of black power. I cannot comment upon Nel's argument, having not yet read the book - something I hope to do in the future - but some of the reviews of it that I have seen, reviews that mention all of the "decoding" done by the critic, in order to arrive at his conclusion, do make me wonder whether the text actually supports that conclusion, or whether the entire argument rests upon the imposition of the critic's own preexisting assumptions upon the text. I hope, at some point, to have an answer to that question, as well as a better understanding of the role of critics like Nel in this recent decision from Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Whatever the final argument put forward in his book, it is not my intention to assert that he can be held directly accountable for this act of censoriousness, simply by virtue of his having made a critique of Dr. Seuss' work. There is a difference, after all, between critique - even harsh critique - and calling for censorship. Of course, if Nel's book does indeed make an argument for suppressing books such as The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, or if Nel was one of the panel of "experts" Dr. Seuss Enterprises is said to have consulted, then that is a different matter, and some of the blame for this recent episode of cultural vandalism can indeed be laid at his feet."

Again, as with the first book, in light of this criticism I have given particular attention to the depiction of the Cat during this reread, in order to see whether I could detect any problematic racialized elements to his character. There is certainly a disquieting element to these stories - Nel is not wrong in labeling the cat disruptive! - that I recall finding rather striking, even as a young girl. Of course, my sense then was more that the Cat was being "naughty," and that the story represented the mischief children get up to, absent parental authority. This second story has an additional disturbing element, one I see referenced in quite a few online reviews, in that the alphabetical cat crew use play pop-guns in defeating the pink spot. This is interesting, because I don't recall the pop-guns from my girlhood reading of the book, making me think now that I just accepted them as a matter of course, understanding that they were toys, rather than the real thing. Truthfully, even reading as an adult, I find the pop-guns (referred to in some online reviews simply as "guns," with no reference to them being toys) less disturbing than the pink slime, which initially came off the Cat in the Hat himself, after taking a bath. In any case, I don't see any of these story elements, however disturbing - the Cat in the Hat's blithe disregard for the fact that he isn't welcome, the nasty pink slime, the alphabetical cat crew - as being in any way "coded" black. I will have to read further, in Nel's work, to get a sense of why he thinks otherwise.

I'll conclude by observing, as I did in my review of the first book, that "whatever interpretation the reader lands upon, when it comes to the meaning of the story and its creator's intentions, the experience of generations of children confirm that this is an immensely entertaining book. I can only hope that it will not be disappeared by our current climate of censoriousness, and that coming generations will also be able to enjoy its odd, disquieting charm." ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | May 29, 2021 |
The cat in the hat, Dr. Seuss' arguably most well-known character, has never been one of my personal favourites. Rather than being a fun playmate to the children (whose house he happily invades) he makes messes, keeps them from their chores, and seem to actively be an agent of negative chaos. In this book, though, he is slightly redeemed, since through the many messes he causes (and subsequently cleans up) he actually winds up helping the children finish clearing the snow from their walkway. My supposition fro this roundabout story is that the car is nothing but a figment of imagination, dreamed up by the children to make their chores go faster through some ridiculous entertainment. No harm is done to the contents of their house (as seen caused by the cat's actions), so was any of it really real? ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
Typical Dr. Seuss fare. It wasn't one of my favourites as a kid, but I liked it okay.
  Tara_Calaby | Jun 22, 2020 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Dr. Seussautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Barańczak, StanisławTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Canetti, YanitziaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Edmondson, AdrianNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Grammer, KelseyNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rousseau, Leonautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
נאור, לאהTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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The Cat in the Hat leaves a big pink ring in the tub and moves it from place to place with the help of his alphabet friends.

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Mitjana: (3.83)
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